If first year Evergreen coach Aaron Schmidt could bottle, reproduce and sell what his staff does at halftime, he would be a rich man.
For the second week in a row, and again in every Evergreen win, his young Vikings asserted themselves in the last two quarters, outscoring Patrick Henry 17-0 to ring up a 30-13 triumph to push their record to 4-3.
“It goes back to the great coaches I have along with me,” explained Schmidt. “They all click and see things from different perspectives. We do a really good job of working together. There were some things we needed to adjust with our run blocking and Coach (Bob) Beemer had some great insight on that. Coach (Tyler) Kleeberger had some good adjustments on our passing game. The biggest thing is, you can come up with the greatest plans but the kids have to go out and execute them, and the most credit goes to them.”
Except for a couple of times in the second quarter, Evergreen’s defense put the clamps on the Patriot offense, including the first play of the game when freshman Logan York jumped on a PH fumble.
Thanks to a couple of penalties, the Vikings couldn’t do anything with that drive, but after an exchange of punts, Hunter Van Wert took matters into his own hands.
On the second play from scrimmage from his own 37, the blur of a junior found a crack on the right side and bolted 63 yards to give Evergreen a 7-0 lead with 7:32 left in the first.
That was it until the 4:23 mark of the second when Wil Morrow finished off an eight play 39-yard drive with a one yard dive to get PH within 7-6.
It took Evergreen just five plays to answer as Van Wert blew 49 yards to give the Vikes a 13-6 lead.
Xavier Wensink’s long kickoff return and a pass interference penalty put PH in the red zone where Jarrett Maas hooked up with Sam Zimmer for a 20-yard scoring strike that tied the game at the half.
But after halftime is when the Vikings flourished.
Jack Etue’s short dump off to Grant Donnald went for 39 yards to get into Patriot territory at the 34.
A penalty and a couple of negative yardage plays set up a punt, but the Patriots were guilty of roughing the kicker, giving the Vikings new life.
On a fourth and 8 from the 32, Josh Dowling’s leaping catch of an Etue pass put Evergreen at the 3, and after yet another penalty, Etue hit Free Canales for an eight yard strike to give Evergreen a 20-13 lead.
It was then when the Evergreen defense took over as Nick Beemer stopped one drive with an interception and Donnald’s bat down of a fourth down pass by Maas snuffed out another.
“I think it started with the pressure up front (to stop their passing game),” said Schmidt. “Their quarterback took some shots. Isaac Yunker got pressure and had a couple nice hits.”
“The DBs were challenged. They have had good games and bad games in the past. I think they took the bad and learned from those mistakes. They went up and made some plays, Hunter Svoboda had a couple big break-ups in the first half, Free Canales had a couple more and had that huge pick. The linebackers got involved as well, Nick Beemer had a pick. Overall, I’m pleased with the improvement from week one to now.”
Etue’s 27-yard dash and a 15-yard jaunt by Van Wert set Beemer up with a 26-yard field goal he knocked through to give Evergreen a two score lead with 8:30 left in the contest.
Canales outplayed Zimmer for an interception to stop the next Patriot possession at the Evergreen 27, and Donnald’s 27 yard gain on a short out set up Van Wert’s third score from 21 yards away to put the game away.
In all the Vikings rang up 417 yards, 258 on the ground (209 in 24 carries from VanWert), and 159 in the air from Etue on 7 of 13 passing.
Patrick Henry had 134 yards rushing but just 64 in the air as Maas was held to 6 for 18 with the two interceptions.
Evergreen (4-3, 2-2 NWOAL) now hosts Wauseon (5-2, 2-2) Friday night in a big league contest.